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How Not to Undo "I Do": 5 Relationship-Strengthening Exercises

02/11/2015 01:55 pm ET | Updated Apr 13, 2015
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With Valentine's Day approaching, now is the perfect time to start some regular relationship-strengthening exercises. It's not enough to show token consideration one day every now and again. Great relationships thrive on quality attention every day. So here are five exercises to unsure you don't undo "I do":

Day 1: Be a Flirt!

Flirting is a basic instinct that sends signals designed to make you more attractive to others, heighten the attention you get from the subject of your flirtation, and strengthen your connection with each other. Unfortunately those who have been in a relationship for a while often lose the flirting habit.

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Get the flirting habit back into your relationship. Forget how to do it? Think back to the days when you made momentary eye contact and smiled; gave random compliments; teased your partner; behaved in a carefree manner; laughed at your partner's jokes.

Day 2: Begin Positively

Only 4 percent of couples who start a conversation negatively can turn it around into something positive. Negatively triggers the fight or flight response, leading to counter-attack or withdrawal. But people with well developed mindfulness who can monitor and control their own automatic responses are able to avoid negatively or turn it around. You can develop this skill too.

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Audit your speech, paying particular attention to how you start conversations with loved ones. Start gently, maintain a balanced tone, and use neutral or positive words. As the conversation continues, focus on your own emotional response and managing that, rather than trying to change how others are acting.

Day 3: Pride Booster

Cultivating pride is a positive thing to do for your partner. Studies show that people who were told they excelled at a task took more control next time, regardless of their mood or how competent they felt. They were also shown to be more likeable, probably because proud people smile more and display more confident non-verbals.

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Don't overlook the efforts of your partner. We become most complacent with those closest to us, and it's the positive things they do regularly that we most easily overlook. So pay particular attention and take the time to remark on their efforts. They will get a great boost of motivation, and you will benefit from their desire to continue doing well.

Day 4: Calm Practice

Studies over a three year period reveal that people who are calmer have happier relationships. For those with elevated heart rates from stress and anxiety, the relationship deteriorated over the three year period.

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Turn your stress management strategies into relationship-strengthening strategies. It's easier to work on something when it's for a greater cause than yourself. So every time your stress starts to climb, bring to mind the potential impact on your relationship happiness, and use this as your motivation to take control of your stress and come back to calm.

Day 5: Seven Second Hug

Oxytocin is referred to as the "cuddle hormone" because of its influence in the bonding process. But it's also great for reducing negative emotions, fear and stress. When you hold an embrace for seven seconds, you allow the oxytocin to flood your body, and you'll feel yourself relax and connect.

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It's self explanatory! Hug away today. Whether it's your partner, your child, your mum or dad, a friend, a stranger or even a loved pet, possession or tree, hold on just that little longer today and spread the love.

Keep your relationship strong and thriving in 2015!

These exercises are taken from the Great Relationships Guide at Mind Gardener.